This “close” election set me to wondering

A lot of relief today, among people I know, that this, eh, close election appears to be over. Sekhnet is downtown now happily photographing some of the street celebrations out there in New York City, a flagrant “anarchist jurisdiction” that, for whatever reason, just doesn’t like Donald Trump. Turns out winning by 4,000,000 or more votes makes it a close election, too close to call for days, an electoral squeaker, in these Exceptional United States of America. I looked up “popular vote” margins for winning presidential candidates. You can see the chart here.

Trump’s 2016 margin of victory, in the “popular vote,” minus 2,868,686, is more than five times lower than the previous record negative vote margin, George W. Bush’s −543,816 in 2000. Same with the percentages, Trump’s −2.09% popular vote margin easily eclipsed the 0.51% loss Bush experienced in 2000.

Trump’s 46.09% of the POPULAR vote was the lowest total since Clinton in 1992 and Nixon in 1968. Recall though, Clinton ran in a three party race, with a wealthy outsider garnering millions of votes and Nixon faced a challenge from the racist right in George Wallace, who got a nice chunk of votes in several states Tricky Dick barely won. In a two party election, you have to go back to Woodrow Wilson in 1912 for a “winner” getting a lower percentage of the actual cast ballots (whoops… actually, you have to go back to James Buchanan in 1856 [1]).

I know, my mind just goes there, looking backward for some kind of seemingly tangible perspective. Believers of every stripe often look to history for support of their theories. An impressively deceptive “non-partisan” documentary about the safeguard of democracy that is the ingenious Electoral College, featuring discredited right wing voter fraud conspiracy theorist Hans von Spakovsky [2], notes, citing the historical record, that without the Electoral College there would have been no Lincoln, no Emancipation Proclamation, probably no free Negroes in the United States today! The Electoral College, our safeguard against tyranny! Ask the ghost of the great Republican Honest Abe!

In 2020 you can access reliable facts in seconds, one thing that makes it so maddening that an unending stream of easily disprovable “alternative facts” (lies) can catapult an unhinged demagogue to 70,000,000 popular votes after the historical disaster that was his mad, narrowly engineered 78,000 vote Electoral College presidency.

Lincoln did win in 1860 with a lower margin of the popular vote than even the man formerly known as The Donald got in 2016. Honest Abe only got 39.65%, you can look it up, though, equally verifiable– he won the Electoral College handily, with 180 out of 303 Electors. In 1864 he was reelected with a solid majority of all votes cast, as well as the Electoral College.

It doesn’t take long, a few minutes of tapping and a little reading, to find out how this happened. The Democratic party, like the Baptist Church at the time, was divided into a Northern anti-slavery faction and a Southern pro-slavery one (in the church the argument was whether the Lord our God and Jesus Christ loved or hated slavery). As a result of this sectional rift two opposing Democrats ran against Lincoln and his brand new Republican party in 1860. There was also a fourth presidential candidate, a man from Tennessee, who got a sizable number of votes. None came close to Lincoln’s large plurality. The decisive Electoral College vote Lincoln got that year made the idea of any kind of recount moot, it was not remotely close. The states that hated Lincoln simply seceded, fought a long and bloody war (a war they insist to this day — not without a lot of evidence— they never lost) and one of their’s eventually killed the Great Emancipator. The rest, as they say, is history.

Another factor that should be considered about the 1860 election is something democracy-loving extremists like Hans von Spakovsky and Steve Bannon must salivate about when they read it, Lincoln was simply left off the ballots in 10 of the 11 states that would secede from the Union shortly after Lincoln was elected president.

Yes, I know, it does seem impossible to understand. It seems like something every “Red State” [2] should have done in the lead up to the 2020 rematch, just leave Biden/Harris off the ballot– et, voila, 100% Trump vote in those states. I wouldn’t put it past ’em, since the ends clearly justify the means for their kind, but I now understand why it would have been impossible. A few moments of diligent tapping gave me the answer about Lincoln being left off all those Southern ballots. There is a procedure in every state for getting your party’s candidate on the ballot– there was nobody (who wanted not to be lynched) to do that for Lincoln in the South in 1860.

Getting on the ballot is a state issue. In South Carolina there were no ballots; the people didn’t vote for any Presidential candidate — Electors were chosen by the legislature, which included no Republican member. As for the other southern states: who was going to organize the Republican Party in the South in 1856 or 1860? The once-influential southern anti-slavery, even Abolitionist opinion in the South had long since been driven out or intimidated into silence by the hostility of the pro-slavery majorities. To campaign for an anti-slavery party was to put oneself at considerable personal risk.

On December 7, 1860, Georgia Gov. Joseph Brown, in an open letter to the people of his state, called for secession, because, in part, if Lincoln were allowed to appoint “Judges, District Attorneys, Marshals, Post Masters, Custom House officers, etc., etc.,he will have succeeded in dividing us to an extent that will destroy all our moral powers, and prepare us to tolerate the running of a Republican ticket, in most of the States of the South, in 1864.” (my emphasis). []. A Republican presence was simply intolerable.

BTW: The Democrats had also become a Sectional Party in 1860. Northern Democrats (Douglas), Southern Democrats (Breckenridge), were the principal fragments of the crumbling structure. (Which left poor Bell as the last truly National Democrat!)

There’s a, probably apocryphal, story that Lincoln received only 9 votes in some Southern county. When a Northerner expressed incredulity at the total, a Southerner replied, “Yes, and when we find the SOB who voted 9 times, we’re gonna hang him!”


[1] whoops:

The 1912 United States elections elected the members of the 63rd United States Congress, occurring during the Fourth Party System. Amidst a division between incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft and former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, the Democratic Party won the Presidency and both chambers of Congress, the first time they accomplished that feat since the 1892 election.


Note also what bullshit this Red State/Blue State reductivism is. There has never been a state, anywhere, that is 100% Nazi or 100% anti-Nazi — no place in the USA where the Klan has zero support and other places where it has 100% support. As our recently defeated president pointed out: there are good people, very fine people, on both sides (as well as some very bad ones.)

Sometimes “Red” or “Blue” states change color based on the thinnest of margins. The idea that there is a noisy group of Jews demonstrating loudly in “Jews for Hitler” t-shirts somewhere doesn’t mean that everyone in that state, city, town, street, or even house, agrees with the strong opinion of the arguably self-destructive Jews with the proud t-shirt.

No place in the United States is purely RED or BLUE. If Biden winds up winning any of his Electoral College states by even single digit vote totals, after all the millions of dollars worth of legal challenges and all the ballot recounting, does that mean all the people who voted against him in that state suddenly turned blue? Come on.

The NY Times did a nice feature, a few days before the election, about how this idiotic “dichotomy” is reflected on the very misleading and influential maps we are all seeing all the time. Check this graphic out (the interactive map show is pretty cool too):


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s